Covid 19 Delta outbreak: MBIE cancels MIQ room release as Govt announces temporary change

The next MIQ room release lottery has been delayed for the second time in 24 hours.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has cancelled the upcomingrelease following a government announcement today that the length of stay would be extended due to the threat of the Omicron variant.

The release had been scheduled for midday tomorrow but has now been moved to early January.

“At this stage, the next room release will be on Thursday 6 January,” MBIE said.

The next room release was previously scheduled for Wednesday, December 23, at midday.

This cancellation comes after MBIE announced late on Monday night that the room release lottery for managed isolation would be postponed for 24 hours. However, that has since been cancelled.

In a tweet just after 9.30pm, MBIE had stated that the next room release would be on Wednesday, December 22, at midday (NZT). The lobby would open an hour beforehand.

The tweet said the postponement was due to the “evolving situation with Omicron”.

“We need to carefully manage capacity as more travellers spend longer in MIQ. This reduces available rooms in MIQ.”

Earlier today, Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced a temporary change to MIQ.

The length of stay will be increased to 10 days for all travellers, with no self-isolation component.

Changes to the MIQ order will come into effect in the next “couple of days”, Hipkins said.

“All of the evidence so far points to Omicron being the most transmissible Covid-19 variant yet and public health advice suggests that soon, every case that comes into MIQ will be Omicron,” Hipkins said.

Hipkins said the Government’s plan was to prepare by speeding up boosters and strengthening border defences to keep Omicron out of the community for as long as possible.

“We start our response to Omicron with a number of advantages on our side. We have over 90 per cent and rising of the population fully vaccinated, we still have our border protections and MIQ in place, school has finished for the year and we are heading into summer when we are outdoors more.

Though the Government had delayed self-isolation plans by six weeks, it was still the default setting and the new measures were temporary, he said.

The Government had been working on contingency plans and future changes to MIQ would be later announced.

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